California is one of the most beautiful and popular states. The west coast is a hotspot for lovers of sun, sea, beach, and beautiful people. See and be seen, that is what it’s all about in this beautiful Western paradise. This huge state has everything you could wish for during your trip. It’s impossible to get bored in the Golden State!
There are a few things in life that you can't miss out on and California is definitely one of them. California lies along the Pacific Ocean and is bordered by Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, and Mexico. The state has three active volcanoes, the largest bay on the west coast, 420 recreational lake areas, and the tallest trees in the world. Our advice: don't stick to long in Los Angeles and take your time to visit Santa Cruz, San Francisco and the National parks.
Miracles of Nature: Yosemite, Death Valley and Sequoia
California is home to some of the most beautiful National Parks in the country. Colourful rock formations, waterfalls, and canyons alternate each other in the beautiful nature of California. Go to Yosemite to enjoy of a breath taking view with rock formations, waterfalls and glacier. Feel the heat in the hottest region of the United States in Death Valley. Near this "desert of death", you will find Sequoia, home of a giant forest with trees of 80 meters high. Keep your budget down and buy a National Park pass, in this way you save some money and can visit all these parks during a whole year.
See and be seen in Los Angeles
To see a different side of California, be sure to visit the city of Angels. Los Angeles is an enormous metropolitan city but one thing is sure: you will not be bored for a second here. The city has so much to offer that you probably need more than one trip to explore it all. From downtown to the beach, Los Angeles is filled with world-famous landmarks and attractions. Experience the coastal culture in the South Bay of Los Angeles in Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach. Public transportation does not really exist here so rent a car and explore what Los Angeles has to offer driving through Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Malibu, Hollywood, Pasadena, Beverly Hills, Marina del Rey, and the beach cities to the south.
Make sure to go to downtown L.A., this part of the city is so much more than just the business centre of the city. Here you will find all kind of different neighbourhoods with their own distinct personalities, think off the Arts District, Chinatown and South Park. Going from one extreme to the other, you will also learn that the rich and famous shop at luxurious stores in Beverly Hills and Bel-air. Specifically, Rodeo Drive might be one of the most famous and luxurious shopping streets in the world. You will also see roller-skating ladies in bikinis and bodybuilders working out on the beach at Venice Beach. That said, if you are in need of some more European culture, go to the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica for terraces and street musicians. Similarly, the Getty Centre offers a nice escape from the city with beautiful views and an impressive European art collection. Last but not least: Spend a day at Universal Studios and take a picture of a real "star" on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. After all, LA is known for its film industry!
A lot of Europeans feel right at home in San Fransisco . This "leftist" and more "progressive" city still supports various flower power celebrations and gay pride parades during the summer. There is something relaxing over the whole atmosphere. There is no shortage of parties in 'San Fran', especially not in the SoMa (South of Market Street) neighbourhood. This up and coming area has a lot of cafes and bars. While you are there, be sure to also check out the San Fransisco Museum of Modern Art. Forget the touristy cable cars (just take a quick picture) and Fisherman’s Wharf. But, do reserve some tickets in advance for Alcatraz, America’s most famous island prison. A walk along the Golden Gate Bridge should also be on every traveller's list.
If you have some time left after all of this, travel back to the south and spend a little time in San Diego. The San Diego Zoo is one of the top sights to visit in California. The city is also home to some of the most beautiful beaches, check out La Jolla and Coronado Beach. If you are looking for more than just a beach, head over to Mission Beach. Later go for a stroll and end the day in Little Italy, in downtown San Diego. When you are in San Diego be sure to pass by San Diego's Old Town, this park is completely free and here you can try some of best Mexican food in California. From San Diego, it’s also easy to take a day trip to the real Mexico. The sinister Tijuana is just a half hour drive away, though you may have to wait several hours to cross the border.
Adventure tours in California
If you would want to discover all of the above, we would recommend you to go on an adventure tour and experience the best California has to offer. The adventure tours are nothing like the typical package trips which you find in many places. On an adventure tour you will travel with a group of other young travellers and your own local guide. Your guide will make sure that you will not only go to all must-see tourist attractions but as well discover the hidden gems of the beautiful locations on the way.
Surfing in California
Southern California is a real surf walhalla. There is no place on earth were there are more surfers per capita than in Southern California. California is so much more than just a destination, it is the birthplace of the surf culture. Here you will find various amazing surf spots along the 5-hour long drive along the coast between Los Angeles and San Diego. The weather and surfing conditions are good all year round.
Road trip along the coast of California
If you've had enough of the overwhelming city, rent a car and travel along the coast to San Francisco and make some stops along the way. You'll discover what California really has to offer on this amazing road trip. Stop in Malibu to spot the celebrity beach villas, in Santa Barbara to taste a little bit of the Spanish vibe and in Santa Cruz to catch some crazy waves by surfboard. Your road trip along highway 101 will give you an enormous sense of freedom.
Skiing in California
In California you can have it all, from wintry ski resorts to dry desert landscapes. During the ski season, the slopes near the Lake Tahoe region are a popular place for some downhill skiing. Besides skiing, you can also head to the sled parks, go snow tubing or snowshoeing. Not a big fan of snow and skiing? Head down to one of the ski towns in the off-season. The area around the Big Bear Lake is very beautiful and you can do all sort of outdoor activities here. It is a great way to spend a couple of days outside of the lively big cities and great for your budget as well.
Accommodation in California
Hotels can be quite expensive in America (except for Vegas). However, hostels, homestays and B&B’s are pretty affordable. Avoid cheap motels along the roadside, especially if you are not so keen on cockroaches. A hostel bed will cost you about 20-25 euros a night.
When to go?
You could visit California in any season but if you still want to work a little bit on your tan, you should go right before or right after summer. Try not to travel during high season (July and August). That way, you will avoid mass tourism and you can save on airplane tickets, hotels and other costs. The sun shines in Southern California all year long, so have no fear of bad weather!